They Day Play Went Away

Play

Chances are if you are on Facebook you have come across this article. Recently a mall in B.C. underwent a major renovation and as part of that renovation they removed play structures and installed iPads. While I have experienced the benefits of whipping out a phone or tablet when out and about I just can’t believe that they would take away a child’s only safe place to run around when at the mall with mom. When I was a mom with young kids I made it a point to head to the mall that had a play structure, especially on the days when the weather was less than ideal for playing outside. The kids could burn off some steam and I could, for the most part, sit and enjoy a coffee or a snack.

It’s not enough that our kids are inundated with screens almost from the time they wake up until they go to bed at night. Now they constantly have something in their hands, heads down, and are so immersed in what’s in their hands that they miss the wonder that’s happening around them. I limit how much screen time my kids get, but it really is starting to feel like I am losing the battle. At school the kids spend most of their days hunched over desks, often working on tablets, recess has been shortened and no touching rules implemented, gym time is almost non-existent, and they are sent home with so much homework that if they have any free time after supper they are lucky.

Trips in the car, at the store, or even while visiting friends and family means kids sit in front of screens so that they are seen and not heard. When did it become such a bad thing for children to learn proper behavior in public? When did distracting our kids become more important that engaging our kids in life? Sure it isn’t always easy. The kids want to be able to sit and veg, much like we did when we were young. The difference, at least for me, is that in my house the TV was something reserved for the adults save for lunch in front of the Flintstones and Saturday morning cartoons. We had no computers, no tablets, and no smartphones in our pockets offering almost constant distraction. We went outside, we got dirty, we even got into trouble occasionally. We also learned how to solve problems, be friends and help our neighbors.

We try very hard to limit the amount of screen time the kids get, even going so far as ditching cable. Sure my kids complain, I get epic eye rolls on the daily, but I have seen changes for the better in my kids, and in myself by doing so. Technology is a wonderful thing, but like everything it needs to be used in moderation. Put the tablets down and pick up some crayons. Turn off the TV and head out to the playground. Get off the couch and explore your neighborhood. You’ll be glad you did.

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4 opinions on “They Day Play Went Away”

  1. I couldn’t believe it when I saw the article about the iPad playground. That is so sad. One of the malls we visit when in Winnipeg has a little play area and the kids (well mainly the youngest as he is perfect age for it) love it.

    As for long trips in the car, and we just made a few this summer, I try to limit the kids screen time in there. It is so tough when one parent tries to limit and the other doesn’t. I have told my kids over and over we never were able to watch movies or play video games during road trips. I either read, looked out the window, listened to music (walkman style) or napped. They think I am super old because of this.

  2. Wow! I’m still in awe. While I do let Little One watch an episode or two of Wild Kratts (and she may watch a bit of Food Network Canada with me once in a while), we do limit screen time. Though technology is something that is a huge part of our kids’ generation’s lives, I don’t like her being tied to a device. She gets 30 min of screen time on Sat and on Sun. The rest of the time, I make sure she plays outside, jumps on the trampoline, work on the farm alongside us, etc. If she’s not helping with the animals, I have her help in the kitchen or do crafts together.

    Even on our lengthy road trips to Montreal or NYC, Little One doesn’t really use her iPod. I bring it just in case, but she often plays a baking game for a few minutes and then turns it off. She prefers to play “I Spy” or the license plate game or alphabet game with us.

    I love this post.

  3. Can’t even add to that, what ever happened to get outside, so what if it’s cold, isnow forts and parkas, tobboganning, skating outside , yes outside, kis are too pampered, they lack imagination because of beng in front of computer, TV and game machines! We got our exercise by going out to jump rope, if you say double dutch it meant something then now they look at you like your an alien, played baseball, hide and seek, now parents have to drive them around to get excercise, say what??? Very sad

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